Frequently Asked Questions

Braces FAQs

What are Braces?

Ahhh. Braces. They are a rite of passage for growing up. Orthodontic braces straighten and align the teeth by gently shifting them into the correct position. The treatment addresses a variety of concerns, including crowding, spacing, over-jet bites, cross bites and under bites. While back in the day people had limited choices, technological advances have resulted in a variety of treatment options, and the process is much easier and more efficient than in years past.

How long will I need to be in braces?

The amount of time in treatment is different for everyone. We are all unique in our bone structure and how our body responds to orthodontic care. The goals for each patient are individualized as well. Treatment times can vary depending on how quickly your body responds and how much work is needed to give you the show-stopping smile you expect. So, while it may take one patient only 12 months to finish treatment, it may take 24 months for another.

The best part about orthodontics is that we are a partnership! We work together to make your smile amazing. The most important thing you can do as a patient to make your treatment time run as smoothly as possible is to follow Dr. Kelson’s instructions. Wear your appliances and rubber bands, keep your teeth clean and healthy, regularly visit your regular dentist for cleanings and always take care of your braces.

Life with Braces?

Let’s keep it real. Braces can feel a little weird at first, but we promise you’ll get used to them. You’ll be able to go about your regular day-to-day activities with your usual enthusiasm. We’ll teach you how to adapt to life with braces and give you tons of tips for a comfortable experience. Though the transition is fairly easy, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Brushing and Flossing

Brushing your teeth is basically the same with or without braces, but with braces you’ll have to step up your brushing game a bit and make sure to get in and around all those nooks and crannies after each meal. You probably don’t want to smile at your crush and unwittingly have a piece of lettuce stuck in your braces. Brushing will help you avoid some potentially embarrassing situations. But it also helps to ward off permanent stains, cavities and inflammation of the gums.

Make sure you brush the inside, outside, and biting surface of your teeth. Angle your toothbrush towards the gums and wiggle it back and forth to get those bristles between the wires and brackets. Also, be sure to gently brush the gum line. You’ve heard it before, and you’re going to hear it again: You should be brushing your teeth for about two minutes each time! Don’t forget to replace that toothbrush every three months and to continue seeing your dentist for check ups every six months.

In a pinch, you can rinse your mouth out after a snack or meal. Although brushing is the way to go, we’re realistic and realize you probably won’t have your toothbrush with you 24 hours a day. Rinse your mouth with water and then brush when you get home.

Flossing is a little trickier with braces. Flossing once a day will help you maintain a sparkling, clean smile. You will need a floss threader to pass the floss under the main wire and then in between two teeth. Slide the floss up and down on each side of the tooth before moving on to the next pair of teeth. You’ll quickly get the hang of a floss threader. Expert tip: Go for waxed floss. Braces can shred regular floss and leave you with a stringy mess.

What to eat with Braces

Fortunately, braces won’t cramp your snacking style too much. You can still eat most of the foods you love. Right after getting your braces on and following adjustments, you may want to stick with softer foods and cold drinks if your teeth feel tender.

Cut or break hard and chewy foods into bite-sized pieces and strip food like corn on the cob. Make everything as easy to eat as possible. As your teeth move into position, you may need to switch up your chewing habits. Chew everything with your back teeth and avoid biting with your front teeth.

True to our dentist roots, we don’t recommend sticky, sugary foods, like caramel, with braces, and it’s best to avoid popcorn and foods that will get stuck between brackets, which can cause inflammation or broken braces. Limit your intake of soda and other extremely sugary beverages as well because the sugar can lead to tooth decay. Our team is here for you if you’re unsure or have any questions.

Comfort Tips

In the rare event that an orthodontic discomfort pops up, we’re here for you. Call us and we’ll get you in for an appointment to fix the issue, if necessary. In the meantime, we’ve listed a few temporary home remedies to keep you comfortable with some of the common braces discomforts:

Poking Wires

As your teeth move sometimes wires may poke out. Ugh. We feel your pain. Luckily there are some quick fixes:

Dry the tooth and bracket with a bit of cotton or tissue, and then break out your dental wax. Roll it into a ball, stick it onto the bracket and wire and maneuver it into position. That’s it. The poking will stop.

If the wire has rubbed a small sore area on the inside of your cheek or lips, rinse with some warm salt water to clean and soothe the area.

If a bracket comes loose in the back of your mouth, unfortunately the piece of wire could be pretty long. If this is the case, you can try to snip the wire with nail clippers. Be extremely careful to avoid breaking remaining brackets. We’ll schedule a visit as soon as possible to get you back on track.

Broken Bracket

This is the most common issue and might be due to certain foods (we’re looking at you taffy), physical trauma to the mouth, or saliva contamination during the bonding procedure. Here’s the solution:

If the offending bracket is in the back of your mouth, remove the bracket from the wire.

For broken brackets in the front or middle of your mouth, dry the bracket with cotton or a tissue, break off a piece of dental wax, roll into a ball and place it over the bracket to keep it from causing irritation.

Figure out which tooth the loose bracket is on by counting from the back tooth. Give us a call and tell us which one it is. We’ll let you know if you can wait until your next appointment or if you need to get in immediately.

Lip and Cheek Irritation

Sometimes it takes a few days to get used to braces. During this adjustment period, the brackets and wires can irritate the lips and cheeks.

Again, wax will be your best friend. Dry the bracket with cotton or a tissue, take a small piece of wax and roll it into a ball and place it over the bracket and wire. That should do the trick. If the irritation continues, give us a call and we’ll help you out.

How often will I have appointments?

Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s treatment needs. Most patients in treatment will be seen every 6-10 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we schedule appointments to get the best possible outcome and the most beautiful smile.

Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?

We do our very best to accommodate you and your family’s schedule. The great news is we typically see our patients every 6-10 weeks so minimal school is missed due to orthodontic appointments.

How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

We offer free consultations including photos and x-rays so that we can give you an estimated treatment time, treatment type and monthly installment plan. We understand the demands on working families and we refuse to let finances get in the way of treatment.  During your free consultation and exam, we will review all of your treatment and financial options.  We have very flexible installment plans with 0% interest and no credit checks.  We will help you maximize your orthodontic insurance benefits and are happy to assist in filing claims.

How long will it take to complete treatment?

Treatment time depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic concerns. Most of our patients wear their braces for approximately 14-18 months. Treatment time can last as little as 6-9 months for simple cases and up to 36 months for more complex cases.

Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

Our goal is to help you achieve beautiful, straight teeth and a balanced facial profile. In very rare cases, we require permanent tooth extraction. Approximately 95% of our patients are successfully treated without having permanent teeth extracted for orthodontic treatment.

What will I learn from the initial examination?

At your free consultation we will answer all of your questions and review your options for personalized treatment, treatment length and costs and flexible monthly payment plans.

What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

After welcoming you to Kelson Orthodontics, we will review all of your information previously gathered over the phone.  Dr. Kelson will complete a thorough clinical exam and our team will take X-rays or photographs if they are needed for proper diagnosis. Your photos, x-rays, exam, and consultation are all free of charge.

How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?

Simply call, email or send us a message. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for your free consultation. Please let us know if you have insurance benefits so that we can help you maximize your financial options.

Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

Research shows that teeth typically worsen over time. As we age, teeth tend to shift and erupt leading to orthodontic problems. The good news -  once teeth are corrected with treatment, we can hold them in position with the help of fixed or removable retainers.

At what age should I schedule an appointment for a screening?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7.  By this age, most children have several permanent teeth starting to surface, allowing us to effectively evaluate your child’s orthodontic condition.  In certain cases, early evaluation allows us to identify missing permanent teeth or jaw growth and habit problems that be easily corrected if caught early. We want to help your child avoid future problems and potential costly corrections. 

Does my family dentist have to schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?

Not at all. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, but a lot of our patients call us directly to schedule a free consultation.

Why should you choose an orthodontic specialist from smile doctors?

Your teeth, and sometimes your entire facial structure and appearance, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that your treatment is customized for you, appropriate and properly completed. Our Doctors have extensive, specialized training that enables us to provide our patients with professional, personalized treatments. We have treated hundreds if not thousands of cases just like yours and go above and beyond to ensure you have the proper bite, facial balance and gorgeous smile you deserve.

Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will monitor that patient’s growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.

What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, our team will work to accommodate you.

How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?

Patients should brush their teeth at least four times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We show every patient how to floss their teeth with braces.

Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

Yes, but it’s not forever! Once treatment begins, we will explain which foods and food types to avoid. Some of those foods include ice, hard candy, broccoli and all sticky candies. Just kidding about the broccoli.

Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?

Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are very important while you are wearing braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments and watch for decay while you are in braces.

Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?

Yes, generally there is no reason you cannot return to school the same day.

Do braces hurt?

Generally, braces do not hurt. After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, “It doesn’t have to hurt to work”!

Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with you when you return, so we ask you to check in with us before dropping off your child.

Invisalign FAQs

What are the primary benefits of Invisalign?

Invisalign aligners are virtually invisible. No one may even notice that you're wearing them, making Invisalign a seamless fit with your lifestyle. Invisalign aligner trays are removable. For the best results and a timely outcome, aligners should be worn for 22+ hours per day. However, you have the flexibility to remove your aligners to eat and drink what you want during treatment.

What are aligners made of, and what do they look like?

The virtually invisible aligners, which are made of a thermoplastic material uniquely developed for the Invisalign treatment plan, look similar to teeth-whitening trays. A series of Invisalign aligners are custom-made for you, to move your teeth in the treatment sequence we determine for you.

How do the aligners straighten teeth?

Over the course of treatment, you will be supplied with a series of aligners. Each aligner will make slight adjustments to tooth position, a process that is mapped out in advance, specifically for your situation. When the aligners are placed on the teeth, they cause the teeth to gradually shift from their current position. After approximately one week, you will begin using the next set of aligners, which will continue the teeth straightening process.

How will Invisalign effectively move my teeth?

Invisalign aligners move your teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force and also the timing of the force application. During each stage, only certain teeth are allowed to move. These movements are determined in the sequence we set for your unique Invisalign treatment plan.

How long will treatment take?

The length of treatment depends on your case and complexity; however, the average case takes about 12 months for adults. The length of time necessary for a teen patient may vary.

How often must I wear my aligners?

We find that aligners are most effective when worn 22+ hours per day and removed only for eating, brushing and flossing.

How often are my appointments?

We will schedule regular appointments usually about once every 10-12 weeks. The goal of these visits is to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned. 

Will Invisalign treatment be painful?

Generally, Invisalign does not hurt.  Some people experience temporary discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment. This is normal and is typically described as a feeling of pressure. It's also a sign that Invisalign is working, as it moves your teeth to their final destination. This discomfort typically goes away in a couple of days.

Can I just wear the aligners while I sleep?

No. The aligners must be in place a minimum of 22+ hours a day for the treatment to be effective.

Will wearing Invisalign aligners affect my speech?

Similar to other orthodontic treatments, Invisalign aligners may temporarily affect the speech of some people, and you may have a slight lisp for a day or two. However, as your tongue gets used to having aligners in your mouth, any lisp caused by the aligners should disappear.

Are there restrictions as to what I can eat while in treatment?

No. Thanks to the removable nature of the aligners, you can eat and drink whatever you want while in treatment. In fact, you're required to remove your aligners to eat and drink. So, unlike when undergoing traditional treatment using wires and brackets, there is no need to restrict your consumption of any of your favorite foods and snacks unless you are instructed otherwise by your doctor. Also, it is important that you brush your teeth after each meal and prior to reinserting your aligners to maintain fresh breath and proper hygiene.

Will smoking stain the aligners?

We discourage smoking while wearing aligners because it is possible for the aligners to become discolored.

Can I drink alcohol when wearing my aligners?

A moderate amount is fine to consume as long as you brush your teeth. Because of the high sugar content in alcohol, you want to make sure sugar is not trapped between your teeth and aligner. The same applies for any sugary beverage.

Can I chew gum while wearing aligners?

No, gum will stick to the aligners. We recommend removing your aligners for all meals and snacks.

How often must I wear my aligners?

Aligners are most effective when worn 22+ hours per day and removed only for eating, brushing and flossing.

Can the aligners slip off while I'm asleep?

It is very unlikely that your aligners would ever fall out, no matter what you were doing at the time: sleeping, talking, laughing, etc. The aligners are designed to fit firmly on the teeth, so this should not be a cause for concern.

Do Invisalign aligners contain Bisphenol-A (BPA)?

No. Invisalign aligners do not contain Bisphenol-A or phthalate plasticizers. These aligners and retainers are made with USP Class VI medical-grade, high molecular weight, polyurethane resins. Tests have been conducted to determine the biocompatibility of these materials, and show that they are biocompatible and pass all applicable regulatory requirements and thresholds for human wear in the mouth. Of course, as with any medical device, you should consult with your health professional about your aligner or retainer treatment and any applicable risks of use.

What's the best way to clean my aligners?

The best way to clean your aligners is to use the Invisalign Cleaning system, available for order at www.invisalignstore.com. As a secondary method, however, your aligners can also be cleaned by brushing them and rinsing them in lukewarm water.

Will I need to wear a retainer after treatment to prevent my teeth from moving again?

We recommend that anyone who has completed orthodontic treatment, whether braces or Invisalign treatment, use a retainer to prevent teeth from gradually shifting back towards their initial position. Because every case is different, please speak to us if you need post-treatment retainers and if they are needed for both upper and lower teeth.

Since having my braces removed, my teeth have shifted. Can Invisalign fix this?

A number of Invisalign patients have undergone a previous treatment involving braces at some point in their past, often during their youth. Adults can usually have the shifting that occurs after braces corrected, without having to go through the trauma and social awkwardness of wearing metal braces.

I currently have veneers. Will Invisalign aligners work with them?

Invisalign is a great option for tooth movement even if a patient has large fillings, crowns or veneers.

I currently have bridge work on several teeth. Will Invisalign still work?

Because bridge work involves the connection of a tooth to surrounding teeth, proper tooth movement must be programmed for best results to be achieved.   After a thorough exam and consultation, we will be better able to give you treatment options. 

How much will Invisalign cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

We offer free consultations including photos and x-rays so that we can give you an estimated treatment time, treatment type and monthly installment plan. We understand the demands on working families and we refuse to let finances get in the way of treatment.  During your free consultation and exam, we will review all of your treatment and financial options.  We have very flexible installment plans with 0% interest and no credit checks.  We will help you maximize your orthodontic insurance benefits and are happy to assist in filing claims.

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